The Story of this Toolkit

Building the stepping stones towards prosperity for families in Detroit
The Whole Family Approach is a result of a collaboration between the Kresge Foundation, APHSA, and five leading health & human services organizations in Detroit. Together, we set out to explore how we might infuse whole family approaches that support generational mobility within health & human services organizations.
Using a human-centered approach, we zoomed in on lived experiences and zoomed out to consider the broader system and existing theory. Through multiple co-design sessions with coaches, teachers, social workers and frontline staff, we uncovered what gets in the way of driving generational mobility, as well as what works well in client-coach settings. Through zooming out, we took into consideration knowledge that’s already out there, understanding what works in similar and adjacent contexts.

All this led to creating this toolkit—which we view as a stepping stone towards the larger journey of generational mobility.


“This tool helped [my client] to understand that it takes a whole village to raise a child. She was perceptive to it and it helped her open her eyes. This helped her to think about making a plan for when she has a child.”
Caseworker, Detroit
“This is the thing we have been missing. We don’t have anything that really takes the whole family approach and makes it practical and tangible.”
Leadership, Partner Organization
“I’m excited to test this in our new homelessness program because it’s really about getting to those underlying systemic issues that affects generations.”
Leadership, Partner Organization

Our Building Blocks

This toolkit is grounded in the work of many individuals and organizations. The following are some of those who’s work we were directly inspired by.

Aspen ASCEND’s Two Gen Approach

Aspen’s two-generation (2Gen) approaches build family well-being by intentionally and simultaneously working with children and the adults in their lives together. The approach recognizes that families come in all different shapes and sizes and that families define themselves.


EMPath’s Bridge to Self-Sufficiency

EMPath's Bridge to Self-Sufficiency is a theory of change that breaks down silos and uses a comprehensive approach to upward economic mobility. The Bridge to Self-Sufficiency is a special tool to chart a path to economic self-sufficiency. “The Bridge” was developed by EMPath and is backed by emerging brain science.


Gary Chapman’s Love Languages

The Five Love Languages outlines five general ways that romantic partners express and experience love, which Chapman calls "love languages". While useful in our romantic relationships, they also apply more broadly to how we experience affirmation in our lives.


Partner Organizations